While the club was born as one of the many sport branches of the Universidad Católica de Chile, officially founded in 1937, it began, strictly speaking, around 1910, when students of the University would reunite to play football matches, frequently facing historical rival Universidad de Chile. In time, the idea of creating a professional club emerged, and on 21 April 1937, the club officially and legally began existing. It made its professional debut, in the second division, against the Universidad de Chile. Rivalry, both in sports and in academic issues, made these matches between the Universities become more and more important, eventually reaching the national status of "Universities' Derby". The rivalry maintains itself until today, with each match between these teams being considered a must-see for every football fan in the country.
The Universidad Católica has attained fame as a favorite of the higher classes, because of many factors, which range from the location of the club's stadium, San Carlos de Apoquindo (in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods of the capital) and Headquarters, although there are "UC" fans all around the country, including popular regions or towns. For this reason, is planned to build a new stadium in a more popular place of Santiago. Due to the neighbourhood's strong influence (wealthy families), the club has been unable to be approved for projects to enlarge the stadium and thus draw larger crowds. Only until in recent years the club was allowed by the commune of Las Condes, to host their clasicos matches against Universidad de Chile and Colo-Colo in their own stadium. Although just a limited number of its rivals' supporters are allowed to be present at these matches due to security reasons inside the stadium and around its high-end neighborhood.
The club has reached notoriety, both in a national and South American level, as owner of one of the best infrastructures and training centers in the continent. As such, it is a good source of young talents, which occasionally rise to stardom in the club. Its most recent youth academy produced player known worldwide is Gary Medel, currently playing for FC Internazionale, among other clubs such as Boca Juniors, Sevilla, as well as playing a big role in Chile's 2010 and 2014 World Cup squads.
The club has won 10 national tournaments, and one international cup: Inter-American cup. Also, in 1993, Universidad Católica was the runner-up in the most important international tournament in South America: the Copa Libertadores de América, losing in the finals against the powerful Brazilian team, São Paulo. In 1997 the club celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a friendly tournament where they beat Ajax Amsterdam 3–2 in the Copa 60º Aniversario de Universidad Católica.
In recent years, the club has been reemerged in international competition, advancing to the 2005 Copa Sudamericana semifinal before being knocked out by the powerful Boca Juniors from Argentina, who would go on to win the tournament. In 2006 the team made a good presentation in the Copa Libertadores, but was eliminated at the last minute by Tigres UANL of Mexico and failed to advance beyond the group stage. Universidad Católica did not qualify for the 2007 Copa Libertadores.
Católica played again Copa Libertadores in 2008 with no luck, being eliminated in group stage by goal difference by River Plate and América. In 2010, their performance was no better, finishing third in group stage behind Universidad de Chile and Flamengo.
On the 2011 edition, Católica finished 1st on the round robin, and then proceeded to advance up to quarter-finals, knocking out Grêmio of Brazil on the best 16 round, and falling to Peñarol of Uruguay 2–0 in Montevideo and winning their home match 2–1, which was not enough to advance.
On 2012 the club, under coach and former player Mario Lepe, finished last on the group stage, winning only 1 home game and losing on their away games in Colombia and Bolivia.
Since 2012, the club has always been in the fight for the championship, however, by one reason or the other, it has been unable to finish first, thus becoming the target of jokes by its rivals and adopting a reputation of a "2nd place team". The lack of titles and frustrating important match losses against bitter rivals and smaller clubs, has infuriated a demanding fan base that is now looking for changes at the top level. The hard core fans have been expressing their anger at the games by blaming the club's executives for keeping the club between the elite, not opening up the club to the masses, lack of investment in acquisition of players and poor decisions in the acquisition of a few foreign players that were not up to the club's standards.